Ken Buckwalter

Republicans Make their Choice for the 157. . . Drucker will Oppose Kampf in November

The Republicans in the 157th House District (which includes Phoenixville, Schuylkill and Tredyffrin townships in Chester County, and portions of Lower Providence and West Norriton in Montgomery County) have made their choice.  The battle of the Republicans has determined that it will be Warren Kampf facing off against incumbent Democratic State Rep Paul Drucker in November.

Phoenixville Borough Councilman Ken Buckwalter captured the Phoenixville precincts but Kampf’s strong showing in the Tredyffrin area and Montgomery County became the deciding factor and ultimate victory for Kampf.

On the Democratic side, Drucker, who ran unopposed yesterday, is completing his first term in Harrisburg.  Drucker filled the seat after he succeeded longtime Republican Carol Rubley, who retired in 2008.  In a nail-biting close race, Drucker defeated Republican opponent Guy Ciarrocchi by a narrow margin of 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent in 2008.

As was the case with the Drucker-Ciarrocchi race, the November election for the 157 will pit two local attorneys against each other.  Interestingly, both candidates from Paoli and also from the same precinct – W2.  As this new phase of the State House race starts today, here’s hoping for a campaign of civility and one focused on the issues.

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Pottstown newspaper, The Mercury . . . ‘Two Vie for 157th House in Republican Primary Tuesday’

The clock is ticking down to the start of Primary Election Day.  The Pottstown newspaper, The Mercury has an article written by Dennis Wright which details the Republican race between Ken Buckwalter and Warren Kampf for the Pennsylvania State House 157 race.  The winner of the Republican Primary race will appear on the ballot with incumbent Democrat Paul Drucker in November’s General Election.

Don’t let the forecasted cold temperatures and rainy weather keep you from the polls tomorrow.  Participate in democracy and get out and vote.  The polls open at 7 AM and will remain open until 8 PM. Here’s hoping for a good turnout of voters tomorrow and best wishes for the candidates and their families.

 

Two vie for 157th House seat in Republican primary Tuesday

By Dennis J. Wright

PHOENIXVILLE — Two spirited Republicans — Kendrick Buckwalter and Warren Kampf — will compete Tuesday for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic state Rep. Paul Drucker in the 157th House District.

Drucker is completing his first term in Harrisburg after he succeeded longtime Republican Carole Rubley, who retired in 2008. He defeated Republican opponent Guy Ciarrocchi by a narrow margin of 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent and the race is expected to be competitive again this year.

Buckwalter, a Phoenixville borough councilman, announced his seeking of the Republican nomination in January. A Phoenixville resident, Buckwalter is a small businessman and 15-year veteran of municipal government in the borough. He has served as chairman of Phoenixville’s zoning hearing board, and has been elected to two terms on Borough Council, where he currently serves. He has also volunteered as a firefighter, and is well-known for his support of the work they do.

Buckwalter said he is running for the seat to utilize the experience he’s gained over the past two decades.  “I’m at the point of my life where I can take the experience I’ve gained over the last 22 years of public service to represent the people in the 157th District,” Buckwalter said. “I can do this now as a full-time citizen legislator.”

While he wants to see reforms in state government, Buckwalter said change takes time. “I’m not running to try to change everything overnight,” he said. “I’m just one person. I’m trying to use my experience as a fiscal conservative and apply it to the state budget and the pension problem. We got to get to a point where we don’t bankrupt the state while fulfilling the pension obligation.

Kampf is an attorney with White and Williams LLP, and has served on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors for the past six years, including serving as chairman in 2008 and 2009. Prior to becoming a supervisor, Kampf served on the Tredyffrin Zoning Hearing Board. Kampf said he is looking to bring his experience with him to Harrisburg.

“I’m running because I think state government is fundamentally broken as far as our taxes go,” Kampf said. “It spends too much and delivers so little as far as education and economical development. While a Tredyffrin Board Supervisor, I’ve helped deliver four no-tax budgets so everyone can live within their means. I think it is that kind of experience is what we need in Harrisburg.”

Fiscal discipline in state government is needed, Kampf said.”I hope to bring this strong fiscal discipline to our state government,” he said. “There are voices talking about that, and I would like to join them. There is also education and job safety, and if we focus on those priorities, and eliminate things like waste and outdated programs,”

The 157th House District includes Phoenixville, Schuylkill and Tredyffrin townships in Chester County, and portions of Lower Providence and West Norriton in Montgomery County.

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A Weekend of Celebration . . . medical school graduation!

Apologies in advance for a bit of personal indulgence . . .

This was a weekend of celebration in Cleveland for my husband and I.  Our only child, Lyndsey graduated from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.  With the distinction as the youngest in her class at 25, Lyndsey was 1 of 27 in her med school graduation class receiving her MD.  This week she is off to Chicago with her attorney husband (of 2 weeks!) to find an apartment and prepare to start  OB/GYN – fertility surgery residency in mid-June at the University of Chicago Medical Hospital. 

Returning from Cleveland last night, my husband and I were overwhelmed with pride of Lyndsey’s accomplishment; it is so hard for us to believe that we are now parents of a Doctor!  And the realization that after 23 years of private school tuition, the Benson bank will now finally close with yesterday’s medical school graduation! 

Now on to the Primary Election tomorrow — I have read various reports that are forecasting a low turnout tomorrow.  Let’s see if Tredyffrin can ride the tide of higher than expected voters.  The polls open at 7 AM and stay open until 8 PM.  Don’t let a few rain drops keep you away . . . don’t sit on the sidelines . . . make a difference by voting!

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Polls Open in Less than 48 Hours, Final Push is on for Kampf and Buckwalter

The Sunday edition of the Daily Local is leading with a candidate overview of the PA State House 157 race for the Republican nomination between Ken Buckwalter and Warren Kampf.  Although for the most part, Dan Kristie’s article does not provide new ideology distinctions between the two candidates, we do read that both candidates support charter school and gun rights. 

Kristie’s article primarily focuses on an Kampf’s campaign mailers against Buckwalter and Buckwalter’s responses, we do see a small difference when it comes to same-sex marriage.  Although both candidates are on record not supporting same-sex couple to marry, Buckwalter does support limited civil unions between same-sex couples, while Kamps said is would reserve comment until presented with a specific civil union proposal. 

Polls open in less than 48 hours, the 11th hour push is on for the candidates. The following article provides a good summary of the candidates . . . if you are still on the fence, it may provide you with some needed information.

Buckwalter, Kampf face off in 157th

By DAN KRISTIE, Staff Writer

Kendrick Buckwalter, a small-business owner and Phoenixville borough councilman, and Warren Kampf, an attorney and Tredyffrin supervisor, are vying for the Republican nomination to run against incumbent Democratic state Rep. Paul Drucker in the 157th District.

The Chester County Republican Committee has recommended both Republicans, as neither was able to get enough votes at this year’s GOP nominating convention to secure the party’s endorsement. Drucker, of Tredyffrin, an attorney and former Tredyffrin supervisor, is running opposed in the Democratic primary. He was first elected in 2008, and this November’s election will prove whether a Democrat can maintain power in the traditionally Republican 157th District. Buckwalter and Kampf have focused their campaigns on electability and past behavior. They have not sought to draw sharp ideological distinctions.

Buckwalter, who owns a framing shop in Malvern, said he is popular with Phoenixville’s Democratic voters. As evidence, he points to the fact that even though Phoenixville has a high concentration of Democratic voters, he has held onto his council seat since 2002.

Local political observers speculate that Phoenixville Democrats helped put Drucker in office — Drucker beat Republican Guy Ciarrocchi by just 2 percent in 2008. Longtime Republican 157th District state Rep. Carole Rubley retired in 2008, making the seat competitive for the first time in recent memory.

Kampf, however, enjoys a geographic advantage that could propel him to victory in the primary. He is from Tredyffrin, the largest township in the 157th District and the place where most of the district’s Republican voters live.

Tredyffrin’s Republican committeepeople tend to favor candidates from their own township. Earlier this year, they endorsed Kampf, and their endorsement could prompt the township’s Republican voters to favor him on primary day. Buckwalter, however, has the endorsement of Rubley, who is well-liked by both the district’s Republicans and Democrats. But it is uncertain how much her endorsement will sway the vote.

Kampf has aggressively campaigned against Buckwalter, criticizing him for, among other things, proposing a tax on alcoholic beverages and suing his own borough council.Buckwalter suggested in 2008 that Phoenixville look into assessing a tax on all alcoholic beverages the borough’s liquor licensees serve. The revenues, Buckwalter said, could be used to support continued revitalization of the borough’s downtown. But Kampf said Buckwalter’s drink tax proposal indicates he is not fully committed to lowering taxes and helping small businesses. Kampf also criticized Buckwalter for filing a lawsuit against Phoenixville’s borough council. Council voted in 2006 to immediately eliminate the stipends council members receive.

But Buckwalter opposed the measure on the grounds that the Pennsylvania constitution prohibits legislators from changing the salary they receive for the term during which they are currently serving. This provision, Buckwalter argued, prohibits legislators from raising and lowering their own pay. Buckwalter took the suit all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Supreme Court voted 7-0 in Buckwalter’s favor.

Kampf said that Buckwalter’s lawsuit unnecessarily cost Phoenixville taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. “While he was technically correct, there may have been a way for him to make his point,” Kampf said. Buckwalter said it was council that cost Phoenixville taxpayers that money. “I was not the one who cost those taxpayer dollars,” Buckwalter said. “It was the borough council members who chose to defend their position, which was found by Supreme Court to be the wrong position.”

During an interview about issues that face the state, Buckwalter put emphasis on turning to the Pennsylvania constitution for answers. Kampf’s answers centered around the theme of upholding and better enforcing laws that are already on the books. Both Buckwalter and Kampf said they support reducing the state tax burden on businesses and corporations. And both said they support gun rights. Both candidates also said they support charter schools. Kampf said that he supports school vouchers in districts that have sub-par schools, but Buckwalter said he would need to further study vouchers before deciding where he stands.

Both candidates said that they do not support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Buckwalter said that he supports limited civil unions between same-sex couples, while Kampf said he is cautious about allowing civil unions. He said he would reserve comment until a specific civil union proposal came before him.

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Voting in Tuesday’s Primary Election . . . A Public Fiduciary Responsibility

With just a few days until Primary Election Day, I thought that the following Letter to the Editor which appears in this week’s Suburban Main Line Life newspaper is particularly appropriate.  Please take the time to read the words of attorney Eugene Grace of Paoli — it is important for all of us to be part of the process.  In Mr. Grace’s words, ” . . . Our right to vote empowers us to choose officials to whom we entrust our most sacred possession, our freedom. . . “

To the Editor:

A fiduciary is a person or entity who serves another party in a representative capacity, subject to a fiduciary obligation. A fiduciary obligation is a legal principle that requires the fiduciary to act solely in the best interest of the party being represented (principal). A fiduciary obligation may require that a fiduciary act contrary to self-interests in pursuit of the best interests of the principal.

Public officials are elected to office with the understanding that they will pursue the best interests of their respective constituencies. Public officials are heavily burdened with ethical requirements to ensure that their conduct is not self-interested. Another thread in the American form of government is that we are a republic. This means that legislative matters are voted upon by elected officials, not by the people directly. Essentially we give our legislators the power of our proxy. This governmental form gives the elected official a certain degree of flexibility in interpreting his or her mandate in carrying out the will of the people as he or she understands it. This allows an elected official to introduce an element of personal conscience into the calculus of his or her vote on a particular issue. Elected officials must determine whether their constituency is for, against, confused or neutral on any matter.

Politicians risk their office if they disregard the desires of their electoral base. Like a fiduciary, they cannot vote to bestow a benefit on themselves and should not vote in a manner which is inconsistent with the proxy given to them by their electorate. It is up to each separate electoral district to determine whether its legislators’ overall voting record is consistent with their core values of freedom, due process and common sense.

The law requires that a fiduciary be faithful to his or her principal. Elected officials owe that duty to their constituents. Every election day, constituents have the final say on the degree to which their elected officials have been faithful to those principles. Remember that many local elections are settled on primary day, which will be next Tuesday, May 18. Our right to vote empowers us to choose officials to whom we entrust our most sacred possession, our freedom. Please vote.

Eugene P. Grace, Paoli

 

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Candidate Ken Buckwalter Uses Social Media Tool, Watching Phoenixville, to Respond to Kampf’s Recent Campaign Mailer

Don’t know if you are aware, but Republican State House candidate Ken Buckwalter is a citizen journalist with a blog, Watching Phoenixville.  Buckwalter started the blog several years ago, long before deciding to run for the State House 157.  This week his opponent Warren Kampf sent out a campaign mailer that contained several quotes attributed to Buckwalter, and unfortunately for Buckwalter may have been taken out of context, and lead the voter to misunderstanding.  With this type of 11th hour campaign strategy, it can be difficult for the targeted person to respond. 

I can speak from personal experience about last-minute campaign tactics. Aside from my election, many of you will recall a ‘comparison’ campaign mailer which targeted Eamon Brazunas that was received by voters very close to November’s Election Day; a situation that can make it nearly impossible for a candidate to recover.  In Buckwalter’s case, I don’t know he has sufficient time to mail a response mailer to the voters prior to Tuesday’s Primary.  However, Buckwalter is using his own social media tool, Watching Phoenixville,  to correct Kampf’s misinformation. Further details and explanation can be found on Buckwalter’s campaign website, www.BuckwalterForPA.com   (For the record, Buckwalter did not ask nor suggest that I add this post to Community Matters.)

Below is Buckwalter’s current posting on Watching Phoenixville: 

 Response to a Warren Kampf Attack Mailer

I just received a mailer from my opponent, Warren Kampf, attacking a post I wrote August 4th 2008. I stand by what I wrote in Alcoholic Drink Tax & Maybe a City Charter.

Warren’s mailer took the following from my post: “Maybe it is time for Phoenixville to look into a drink tax what with the many, many taverns, pubs and bars opening up in our downtown.”

Warren then states “Two times – in 2010 and in 2008 – (Ken) supported a new “drink tax” in Phoenixville – a tax that would hurt the revitalization of his community.”

Unfortunately, Warren couldn’t be more deceptive in his attack as he left out the rest of what I wrote.

“This would provide the consistent funding source needed to continue to revitalize and promote the downtown with the possibility of providing some property tax relief for our residents. At least those who enjoy our downtown but don’t live here, would help contribute financially to the added expenses of sustaining our growth.”

Warren also failed to inform that Phoenixville property owners were about to be put on the hook to the tune of $625,000 for 5 years if Council passed funding for the services of the CDC. The amount would equate to almost a 10% tax increase before the budget even got underway for 2009.

It should be noted that the funding did pass that August but was cut in half for the 2010 budget.

Click to read post: Alcoholic Drink Tax & Maybe a City Charter.

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Contested Republican Primary for PA State House 157 . . . Does Campaign Finance Report Indicate Kampf & Buckwalter as Fiscally Responsible? You be the judge –

We are in the countdown for the Pennsylvania Primary Election, Tuesday, May 18.  Locally, there is a contested Republican race for the PA State House 157, currently held by incumbent Democrat Paul Drucker.  Ken Buckwalter and Warren Kampf were both recommended by the Chester County Republican Party in March and will appear on Tuesday’s ballot.  The outcome of the Primary will determine whether Buckwalter or Kampf is on the General Election ballot in November and opposing Drucker.

There’s been much said and written about small business owner and Phoenixville Borough councilman Buckwalter vs. attorney and Tredyffrin Township supervisor Kampf.  Each of the candidates has sent several targeted campaign mailers to registered Republicans in the 157 district. Yesterday, Republican residents received a Kampf campaign mailer which focused on Buckwalter’s voting record on the ‘pour tax’ and also the sewer tax.

Did you know that Pennsylvania is only of only 11 states that do not protect their citizens, elections and government from the destructive impact of unlimited campaign contributions?  In fact, in March of this year, Senator Jane Earll (R-49) and Senator Jay Costa (D-43) introduced Senate Bill 1269 which would amend the Pennsylvania Election Code to set campaign contribution limits per election, including in-kind contributions.  The finance reform legislation would place limits on campaign contributions and prohibit the use of campaign funds for personal uses. There are important reasons that voters value fiscal responsibility in their elected officials.  Managing public money is a matter of public trust, and a charge that should not be taken lightly.

When introducing his campaign reform bill, Senator Costa commented that “It is vitally important that Pennsylvania renew the process of reforming our campaign finance laws by placing reasonable restrictions on political contributions and expenditures that are overwhelmingly supported by the public.”  An important campaign component for State House 157 Republican candidates Buckwalter and Kampf is their promise of fiscal responsibility and discipline in Harrisburg.  With a contested primary, I thought it would be interesting to look at how each of these candidates has fiscally managed their campaigns leading up to Tuesday’s Primary.  Campaign finance reporting is public information and I have copies of the latest reports for Buckwalter and Kampf.  Each of the candidates filings are ‘as of May 5, 2010′; Buckwalter electronically filed online and Kampf’s paper-filed. 

Comparing the campaign finance report indicates that total expenditures, debts and obligations as of May 5 for Kampf ($43,541.18) vs. Buckwalter ($10,458.69). These numbers indicate that Kampf is outspending Buckwalter approximately 4-1.  I then looked at how much money each candidate had raised.  As of May 5, total campaign contributions for Kampf ($58,448.49) vs. Buckwalter ($13,202.72). 

I next compared the candidate’s contributorsdid either Kampf or Buckwalter receive $1,000 or more from individuals or companies? Buckwalter – no; actually Buckwalter received no individual contribution greater than $500. Those contributing $1,000 or more to Kampf’s campaign include Paul Olson ($3,500); C.T. Alexander ($1,000); James McErlane, Lamb McErlane Law Firm ($5,000); White & Williams Law Firm ($2,000); Aqua America ($1,000) among others.

How did these 2 candidates spend their money? Statement of expenditures, Schedule III of the Campaign Finance Report indicates the expenses for Kampf and Buckwalter.  Excluding campaign mailers, printing and postage, I looked at all individual campaign expenses of over $500 for each candidate.  The only individual expenses by Buckwalter over $500 was $1,500 on consulting services on two different dates, total of $3,000.  Kampf’s individual expenses exceeding $500 included computer ($630.66); consulting ($3,700); website ($5,550); photocopier ($530); catering ($1,000).

I think that this is an interesting statistical analysis which indicates fundraising and spending patterns of both Republican candidates seeking the PA State Representative position.   It is important that our elected officials are fiscally responsible; have these candidates succeeded in that mission during Primary season? If you are a Republican, you be the judge and cast your vote on Tuesday accordingly.

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Proposed 2010-11 School District Budget . . . Ray Clarke’s Comments on School Board Meeting

Last night was TESD School Board meeting with discussion of the proposed 2010-11 district budget as the major agenda item.  I was attending a DuPortail House Board meeting and as always, I thank my friend Ray Clarke for attending the School Board meeting and then for sharing his notes with us.  For Ray and any other who attended – I am curious what was the resident turnout like last night?  Staff, teachers, parents in attendance?  Many comments from the audience members?

It looks like the unfunded pension program (PSERS)  problem is looming ever closer on the horizon . . . wonder if there is time before the Primary next week to have a statement from the local candidates on their proposed solution to the problem?  If not before the Primary Election, I do think that we need to have public dialogue before the November General Election and know where the candidates stand on this important economic issue facing the Commonwealth.

Update from the School Board meeting budget discussion

First, a quick appreciation for District Business Manager Art McDonnell. His presentation tonight was very clear. He always seems to be on top of the details, and the budget process has chewed through a lot of those details.

The proposed budget passed with one change: removal of the $80,000 of revenue estimate for the Activity Fee. The consensus being that there is not enough time to sort through and socialize all the details for the upcoming year, but that such a fee should be considered for 2011/12. The lost $80,000 will come from the fund balance.

Board members Brake and Bookstaber proposed amendments that would slightly lower the non-contract compensation increase (to 2%) and the property tax increase (to 2.5%), but received no other votes. I’m not sure that I buy the arguments against the former, but I can see how the $7 million deficit for 2011/12 would weigh on the decision to tax at the Act 1 index. That shows how important it was for the Board to vote not to apply for exceptions back in January, forcing the expense reductions.

The good news is that Moodys affirmed the district’s AAA rating, even considering the dire financial outlook for 2011/12 and especially beyond. Now seems to be a good time to borrow what we can to assure funding to keep the facilities going, while the District tries to figure out how to offset the remaining contracted salary increases and benefits entitlements. Beyond that, hopefully new contracts will reflect the community’s own compensation experience and ability to pay. The notion of above-inflation compounded annual salary level and tenure increases is – to use a word popularized at the meeting – unsustainable.

Those actions will not address the retirement plan problem, though – a net $6 million contribution increase in 2012/13 and another $3 million on top of that in 2013/14 – by which time the fund balance would be wiped out, even with inflation-linked tax increases.

This leads to one of the most critical questions for our prospective state representatives: what – specifically – would you propose to address the unfunded pension liability? What changes in benefits? What changes in contributions, employer and employee? What aid to school districts, and from what source? Let’s hear from them.

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Tredyffrin Republican Committee Race Heats Up in W-2 Precinct

The upcoming Primary Election will present  an interesting phenomenon in Tredyffrin’s W-2 voting precinct.  This is the voting district for State Rep Paul Drucker, Supervisor and State Rep candidate Warren Kampf, and Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro — interestingly, my part of the Great Valley is also included in the  W-2 precinct. 

Tredyffrin has 17 different precincts and I believe that W-2 is the only district that will have a contested primary election for a committee seat (either Republican or Democrat).  If my math is correct, there are 2 positions in each precinct; 17 districts x 2 positions = 34 positions.  There are 34 Republicans and 34 Democrats committee  positions in Tredyffrin.  Sixty-four total committee positions from both political parties; and the only precinct contested is my W-2 precinct.  The W-2 Republican committee race will feature supervisors Kampf (current W-2 Rep committeeman), DiBuonaventuro and attorney Bill Lynch running against each other in the primary.  Yes, the only contested committee race in Tredyffrin and it will feature 2 supervisors against each other.  In addition to running for the local committee seat, Supervisor Kampf is also on the ballot for the Republican State House opposing fellow Republican Ken Buckwalter of Phoenixville.  Democrat Paul Drucker is the current State House Representative and will be on the primary ballot unopposed.

This week, registered Republicans in the W-2 precinct received the following campaign letter from supervisor DiBuonaventuro.  Anteresting battle is brewing in this section of the township . . .  I’m thinking that Primary Day in W-2 could provide a Kodak moment or two when I go to vote.

Dear ____________,

Thank you for all of your support these last two years. It has been an honor to serve as your Supervisor, representing the Western District of Tredyffrin and providing the support and constituent services our citizens need.

I am writing to let you know I am a candidate for Republican Committeeman in our voting precinct, W-2. This position, along with Committeewoman Jean Sauer, represents registered Republicans in Tredyffrin Township who vote at Delaware Valley Friends School on East Central Avenue in Paoli.

On May 18th, I am running to challenge appointed Committeeman Warren Kampf.   Kampf, who recently moved to the district, is also a Township Supervisor and is also running to be the Republican Candidate for State Representative. There is a third person on the ballot who is also challenging Kampf for committeeman.

The position of Committeeman for W-2 will have significant impact for not only the residents of Berwyn, Paoli, and Malvern, but for all of Tredyffrin as we elect four Supervisors next year. The committeeman post is for two years and will have a direct role as to which Republicans are candidates for Township Supervisor and School Board in 2011.

Over the last two years as your Supervisor, I have represented the interests of all of our citizens in the Western District and throughout Tredyffrin. We delivered results together. They include the demanding Turnpike negotiations that directly impacted our Summerhill neighbors and others, the Paoli Train Station and Town Center Plan, and the storm water management issue in Valley Hills. These are just a few of the major challenges we effectively managed as a team.

Many issues and future challenges remain. This is the reason I need your vote on May 18th.Let’s make sure to the extent we can, that candidates endorsed to run for the Board of Supervisors and the School Board are both qualified and that they always put our interests first.

Thank you for your consideration and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to seeing you on Primary Election Day, May 18th, if not before.

With appreciation, I am

John DiBuonaventuro

Western District Supervisor

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Supervisors Lamina, Kampf & Olson Provide Reality TV for Tredyffrin Residents

Below you will find the entire transcript of my statement at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  I know it is long but I decided that the only way to fully explain, was to insert an unedited version.  I do not believe in surprises and it was not my intent to catch the supervisors off guard last night, so I sent 2 emails last week, detailing my questions and concerns about the firefighter funding process and reminding them of the Pitcarin decision of March 2008.  The $50,000 in-kind offer to the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust was not permitted due to what could be perceived as a  ‘pay to play’ arrangement between the township and Pitcarin.  I received no responses to either of my emails.

I had advised the supervisors of my concerns; so my expectation for last night was that they would simply listen and at best, thank me for my remarks.  Unfortunately for me, the Keene Hall audience and those watching at home that is not what happened.  If one was only interested in the merits of reality TV, than last night was worth watching.  As I stated last night, it was my intention to wait until after the first quarter had ended before exploring the process of the fundraising effort. (March 31, 2010 was the announced end date for collection of the fire company donations). 

I waited until the fund drive was successfully completed and the money safely delivered to the fire company before opening the discussion on the process.  In between the personal insults which were hurled at me, I realized something.  It is OK to agree with the supervisor decisions but there’s a personal price paid if you wish to have a differing opinion.  At one point, Bob Lamina called Community Matters a democrat blog and told us he refers to it as ‘Benson’s Blog’.  Where that came from, I have no idea, but that will certainly be a YouTube moment.  (Yes, my husband taped the meeting).   

Lamina and Kampf’s admonishment of me using personal attacks and negative innuendos was disgraceful.  Following their attack on me, Carol Clarke, a Great Valley resident felt compelled to speak up in my defense and to offer her opinion on the supervisors solicitation of local companies, and the perception by the community (as she saw it).   Although a gallant effort (and much appreciated by me) Carol also was viewed as the enemy and similarly dismissed by supervisors Kampf and Lamina.  Next Dariel Jamieson took the microphone, determined to seek an apology from Lamina to the democrats in the township  and to Pattye Benson.  Chairman Lamina retorted that he was allowed to have whatever opinion he wanted, apparently even as chair of the supervisors. Wow, in an instance I was taken back to earlier township meetings over the St. Davids sidewalk issue . . . remembering that Kampf, Lamina and Olson rule the township.  They make the rules and once again they are free to break the rules.  If you notice, I included Section IX, 902A of Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter in my remarks last night.  (You will see it referenced below.)

At one point, Kampf referred to the supervisors meeting as a ‘New England Town Hall meeting’ — I have never attended a town hall meeting in New England, . . . are they laced with the same level of disrespect for the speakers?  Lamina repeatedly questioned the  ‘political timing’ of the fire funding discussion to myself and to Carol Clark.  The timing of my remarks had to do with the ending of the first quarter, March 31st, which [by their own admission] was the official end of the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Firefighter Fund Drive.  I respectfully waited to discuss the process until the drive had ended . . . political timing, I don’t think so. 

Supervisors Lamina, Kampf, and Olson consistently held the line that they had solicited as residents rather than supervisors for the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive.  But remembering that the cardboard check was presented during a Board of Supervisors Meeting and the members of the solicitation committee were named (Lamina, Kampf and Olson), I am not sure how it would be possible that the businesses did not know that they were supervisors.  For those that are interested, here is the solicitation form which was used.

I would encourage you all to watch last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting and draw your own conclusions.  I have received a couple of emails from Blair Meadowcroft, writer with the Main Line Suburban who attended last night’s meeting.  She is writing an article about the meeting and I will be curious to read her take on it.

_________________________________________________

Unedited transcript of my statement presented at April 19, 2010 Board of Supervisors Meeting

I would like to address the process of the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive. When the Fund Drive was announced on December 21 Board of Supervisors Meeting with the presentation of the cardboard check, I was as surprised as many in the community.  I understood that the significance of the $23,200 cardboard check as presented by Warren Kampf was to make up for the cut to the fire companies that had occurred as a result of the township’s 2010 budget.  I was surprised that 3 of the supervisors, Warren Kampf, Paul Olson and Bob Lamina had come up with this idea and with no discussion from the community were already out fundraising.  It seemed unclear whether the other supervisors were aware or not of this venture.  It was also unclear whether the fire companies had been counseled about the Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive.  I set aside my concerns and problems with the process until after the first quarter – which as I understood it would be the cut-off for the Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive.

We are now safely past the first quarter, the money has been collected and turned over to the Berwyn Fire Company and I would like to address issues and concerns with the process.  I should say at this point, that my questions are only addressed to supervisors Bob, Warren, Paul and JD – Phil, EJ and Michelle were not on the Board of Supervisors in December 2009 when the fund drive began.

To receive an official update from the Berwyn Fire Company, I contacted their president Rip Tilden, asking 4 questions. Last week I sent the following questions to Rip Tilden, president of Berwyn Fire Company, and copied the Board on the email.

(1)   What was the total amount received by Berwyn Fire Company as a result of the solicitation efforts of supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf?
(2)   Has Berwyn Fire Company distributed the money to Radnor and Paoli fire companies?
(3)   Can you provide a complete list of the donors, individuals and corporate?
(4)   Are there any contributions that the fire company can not accept and therefore must return?

Rip kindly supplied me with his detailed response which I have added to my Community Matters blog and also sent to you. The total they received from the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive was $24,400.  In response to my question for the list of donors, it was Mr. Tilden’s suggestion that the information come from the solicitors, not the fire company, which would be the Tredyffrin Township supervisors. 

When I sent you a copy of Mr. Tilden’s response to my questions, I asked you to add this topic to the agenda, answer the questions and suggested that the public should have a complete accounting of the supervisors fund drive.  I received not response to my email to the board of supervisors, nor did I receive a response to my 2nd email to the board of supervisors.

In my email to you, I voiced my concern about the solicitation by supervisors to companies that could be doing business with the township and I cited a specific example from May 2008 and the Pitcairn Company.  The same four supervisors, Warren Kampf, Bob Lamina, Paul Olson, and John DiBuonaventuro were supervisors in 2008 and were involved with that decision, as was Mimi Gleason and Tom Hogan.  For the benefit of the other supervisors and the public, I will briefly explain.  I was and still am the president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, a nonprofit 501c3 organization.  Judy DiFilippo (who was a supervisor at the time and also a Trust board member) and myself attended a press party for the Trust.  At the party I was approached by Tony Noce, a VP for Pitcairn Properties. We had information available at the party on the Jones Log Barn and Mr. Noce was extremely interested in the historic rebuilding project and asked detailed questions about the barn.  I explained the background and history of the project and that the barn was to be rebuilt in Wilson Farm Park.  Mr. Noce suggested that to me that his company could help with their use of heavy equipment for grading, etc.  He explained that his company would be building an office building in Chesterbrook and if we could work out the schedule, he’d have his guys bring the equipment over to do the grading and would have some of his people add a few extra work days to help the Trust.

I was delighted with this generous offer and truly excited about the possibility of some real help with the Jones Log Barn project, in the form of an in-kind donation.  Remember, I did not solicit Pitcarin’s help – it was offered to me and the Trust.  I viewed the kind offer as just that, a kind offer of help and a gift valued at as much as $50,000.  We used the offer in grant applications, pushed up the date for the architectural drawings, etc. so as to be able to accept this offer.   

About 6 weeks after the offer, Judy receives word at an Executive Session of the Board of Supervisors that the Trust would not be allowed to accept Pitcairn’s in-kind offer.The Board of Directors of the Trust received the following email from Judy from May 6, 2008: (excerpted)

“ . . . Trust Board Members –

1) Last evening in Executive Session there was discussion about Pitcairn’s offer to the Trust.  Some of you may know that the Township is trying to negotiate an agreement with them relating to a new office building they want to construct in Chesterbrook.  The Board was concerned that there was a perceived ‘conflict of interest’ with their offer to grade and/or excavate the ground in Wilson Farm Park for the construction of the barn, “What did they want in return?” for their offer. . . “

The idea was that there could be a ‘pay to play’ perception because of the final review of the land development project between the township & Pitcairn.  Needless to say, I was very upset – I was not on the planning commission, the zoning commission, nor an elected official, and I was not allowed to accept this offer.  Warren Kampf was chair at the time and called me while on a business trip in California to discuss the board’s decision.  He was absolute that I could not accept this offer because this company was doing business with the township.  I knew nothing about Pitcairn’s planning commission review yet I could not accept the offer.

Fast forward 18 months to December, 2009 and the very same people who told me that I could not accept an offer with a company that was doing business in the township (even though I didn’t know it) goes and solicits local companies.  Mr. Kampf read off a list of donors at the December 21 meeting of the cardboard check presentation that included:

Cafe Winberie’s
Christopher’s
Braxton’s
Margaret Kuo’s
Comcast
PECO
Devon BMW
Devon Horse Show
Lamb, McErlane
Villanova University
Saul Ewing
Aqua PA
Liberty Property Trust

The way I see it is the only difference between the Pitcairn/Trust situation and the fire company solicitation is that one was an in-kind offer and the other was a monetary contribution; both could be perceived as benefiting the township.  If a business that was solicited by the supervisors during the Holiday Fund Drive were to have zoning, planning development projects, contract negotiations, etc. with the township, the perception of pay-to-play would exist.  (This was the argument provided when I debated that the Trust should be allowed to accept Pitcairn’s offer.)  Conceptually, there is no difference between the situations. 

Comcast is currently negotiating a 15-yr. franchise agreement with the township which expires in 2010, Lamb McErlane is the township solicitor and has an agreement with the township and they were solicited and donated, Aqua PA has a contract with the township, and Liberty Property Trust has had ongoing land development issues for the last decade over Church Road in the Great Valley.

Referencing the Home Rule Charter, Article IX, Prohibited Activities and Conflict of Interest

902. CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

A. No elected or appointed official of the township shall:

1. Engage in any activity or take any action by virtue of his official position from which activity or action the official, or any other person or entity in whose welfare the official is interested, shall benefit or realize a gain or advantage. Such benefit, gain or advantage shall not, however, be construed to be prohibited if the action in question is in behalf of a group of citizens of the township and such benefit and relationship is generally known and acknowledged.

2. Solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor, service, commission or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official in the discharge of the duties of office.

3. Seek to influence, directly or indirectly, the awarding of any contract where such official is interested or would benefit directly, financially or otherwise, from said contract. Such action is not intended to apply to actions of a Supervisor on behalf of a group or class of citizens of the township who would benefit from the contract and such benefit and relationship is generally known and acknowledged.

I would like to understand why 4 supervisors in 2008 said that Pitcairn’s offer could be perceived as a pay to play but the same supervisors OK their own solicitation of local companies. This is not about the money that was raised.  It is about the process that they used to raise the money – the source of the donations and the encouragement donors may have received/felt in responding to the solicitation.

Why was the Trust not permitted to accept an in-kind offer but supervisors can openly and publically solicit?  Why are there different sets of rules applied?  Same supervisors – different rules.

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